SUNSET PARK — Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez, the former commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park, has been reassigned, and is now head of the NYPD Auxiliary division in Queens.
Gonzalez, who served as the precinct’s top cop for nearly four years, taking over from Capt. Tommy Ng in March 2016, was replaced in the post by Capt. Ernesto Castro on Friday, March 7.
The New York Daily News first reported the shift and cited the controversy around Gonzalez’s tenure, including a massive lawsuit by Imran Jairam, the owner of former Sunset Park club Love & Lust, alleging that Gonzalez demanded contributions to Puerto Rican relief efforts to forestall enforcement of violations at the bar following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Although some have alluded to the transfer as a demotion, a source within the 72nd Precinct described otherwise.
“It was all kind of a shock to us because it isn’t really a demotion,” the source told this paper. “I don’t know if that’s what the Daily News is saying but, according to other news outlets, they’re making it seem like it’s a demotion, but it really isn’t. He could potentially get made inspector from that spot.
“We are sad to see him go because he was with us for four years,” the source added, stressing that Gonzalez had been the precinct’s longest-serving CO. “He was community-oriented. Everyone knew him. He worked well with the cops and everyone. It’s sad to see him go, but we are happy for him at the same time, and I think he’s excited because he has challenges awaiting him. It’s just unfortunate that it’s viewed as something bad. It really isn’t. These are volunteers that really care for their community and want to better it. It’s good and it’ll be good for him too,because he’s a good community person as well.”
According to the NYPD’s site, “The NYPD’s auxiliary police program is the largest auxiliary police program in the United States, with thousands of volunteer officers contributing more than one million hours of public service each year. Auxiliary officers are trained to observe and report conditions requiring the services of the regular police.”
The source said that the Love & Lust dust-up “wasn’t a determining factor” in Gonzalez’s transfer. “It was news to us,” the source said. “When we read the articles, we were like what? I think many people believe it but it has nothing to do with it as far as I know.”
In 2018, Community Board 7 nixed a liquor license request by the former owner of the club.
Attorney Delvis Valdes, who is representing Gonzalez, called the charges leveled by Jairam that Gonzalez had tried to shake him down, “baloney and malarkey,” and said that he was “upset” and “disappointed” by the way that the NYPD had treated Gonzalez.
“When crisis came to Puerto Rico, [Gonzalez] went down there on his own vacation time and dime to help, and that is part of the problem that he’s facing today,” contended Valdes. “He blindly or naively accepted help from Love & Lust. I guess they said, let’s help out Gonzalez and his quest to help out Puerto Rico and maybe that will get him off our backs, and it didn’t because he kept doing what he was supposed to do and charged to do. None of it is true. Yet they made their allegations and that’s what started the whole thing with 50 Cent and all that nonsense.”
50 Cent, also known as Curtis Jackson, frequented the club and posted about Gonzalez several times, including writing “Get the strap,” which allegedly translates to “Get the gun,” on Instagram. As a result, many of Jackson’s followers wrote threatening comments on the post, such as “Blast this fool.”
But, that wasn’t the end of the 50 Cent connection. In February 2019, the New York Daily News reported that Gonzalez had told officers during roll call the prior June to “shoot him [50 Cent] on sight,” if they saw him at an NYPD boxing charity event held in the Bronx that summer, a comment that the News said Gonzalez laughed off as a “bad joke.”
The charges against Gonzalez were dropped in Aug. 2019, and an NYPD spokesperson told this paper at the time, “[The] allegation was unsubstantiated.”
But, Jairam’s attorney Eric Sanders told this paper in a statement, “The NYPD is giving this man a pass. He’s caused irreplaceable damage to my clients.”
Nonetheless, Valdes said, “I’m really upset with the department. I hold them in high regard in general, but I’m really disappointed in how they treated him the way they did on a baseless accusation. I understand you have to investigate an accusation, but they turned out every rock and pebble that they could. They sent internal affairs down to Puerto Rico to interview his family down there. They haven’t come up with anything to stick to this gentleman other than a minor offense related to a block party on 47th Street and Fourth Avenue, but they turned his whole life upside down, trying to find something wrong with it.”
In addition, Valdes stressed that Gonzalez had remained in his post at the 72nd Precinct longer than most COs, who are transferred every couple of years by the NYPD. “We had him for longer,” Valdes said. It was overdue.”
Rev. Samuel Cruz, the senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, said he was sad to see Gonzalez go.
“It’s a shame that a commanding officer, who was doing a great job in community policing, has been transferred without consulting the community,” he told this paper.
But, Tony Giordano, who ran the popular Sunset Parker Facebook page Sunset Parker, disagreed.
“He came into Sunset and decided he would ‘rule’ the streets,” he claimed. “If he found folks that he could ‘buy’ with favors, he did the favors.” Giordano said that in the case of one group, that “wanted to stage a parade/march … he didn’t make them get a permit. He okayed it on his own and in addition provided a police escort. But another group that stood up for the rights of folks was not only denied such ‘privileged’ treatment but were denied permission even through the permit process.”
According to Valdes, the NYPD still has departmental charges pending against Gonzalez.
“He’s not accepting any charge whatsoever,” he said. “If indeed the time comes when we have to have a trial, we will, but are not not accepting any departmental charges leveled against him whatsoever for the aid and assistance that he provided to Puerto Rico.”